Two weeks racing in Florida; My MPC debut!

My Florida back-to-back weekends is over and I’m finally back home for a few days. After nearly picking up my first IMSA win at St. Pete and a pair of 2nds in an Aston Martin, I was back in the Porsche Cayman GT4 RS with Czabok-Simpson Motorsport at Sebring last weekend for my first Michelin Pilot Challenge weekend.  It was definitely very challenging to jump into one of the most competitive sports car series in the world with established professional drivers but challenges like this will continue to make me better and provide me the opportunity to continue racing.

This was both the team’s and my second weekend in the car. We are learning with every session and trying to get as much seat time as possible. We haven’t had any test sessions yet and we had only 2 hour long practice sessions. This seems like a lot of time but considering I am now sharing the car with another driver and we also need time to make changes to the car and swap drivers in the pits, a lot of time gets taken from us. I ended up with about 20 laps of practice before the race and none on new tires. I would also usually have a qualifying session which I can also use to help learn and get quicker, but my teammate Gordon Scully was responsible for qualifying the car and per rules start the race.

Gordon started the race from P19 and was able to fall into a rhythm early on while gaining a couple spots. He was able to make up around 5 spots before pitting for a driver change. Ater the pit cycle, I restarted the race in 23rd in class and also behind about a dozen slower TCR cars. With a pair of short green flag runs, I was able to make up a few spots. We made our driver change earlier than most once minimum drive time of 40 minutes in the 2 hour race was met by Gordon. Then the team made a great call to dive into the pits right before a potential caution.  When the caution came out after my stop (these were also my first pit stops), many others stopped and I cycled up to 3rd for the restart with just under an hour left!  It was at this point where I really got to sharpen my craft and learn against some the best sports car drivers in the world. There are no designated pro and am drivers in MPC.  But most teams put their more experienced and faster driver in to finish.  So, I was racing against a few factory drivers and almost all veteran pros.  And, I was going to have the longest stint I’ve ever had in a race car along with saving fuel for the first time and trying to manage the tires. I was able to work on my defense and hang in the top 5 for a while and the top 8 for about 40 minutes, but after many laps of hard fighting my tires began to fade and I fell back a few more positions. 

We were on track for around a P11 or P12 finish out of the 26 in class and 40 in the race until unfortunately with 2 laps to go we suffered a race ending mechanical failure which forced me to limp back to the pits where it eventually lost power all together. While it was a tough way to end our day, we still had a very productive weekend. Every time the car hits the track is a chance for the team and I to learn and progress in the development of the car and my GT4 racing experience. We feel that we have taken another step forward and we will continue to improve with every lap.

It was a ton of fun and I learned a lot that I’ll be able to apply moving forward. And, it was cool to be part of one of the biggest and most historic racing events in the world. Our race was the top support race before Saturday’s 12 Hours of Sebring (with several drivers in my race also participating in the 12 hour race).

The race (and the St. Pete VP Challenge races) are archived on Peacock. You can also now find St. Pete on the IMSA YouTube page. The Sebring MPC race will air on CNBC this Saturday 3/26 at 1pm ET and on NBC Sports Chicago Monday 3/28 at 2pm ET.

Thanks to the Czabok-Simpson Motorsport crew for all of their hard work this weekend. I’m headed to The Thermal Club in Palm Springs this weekend for the INDYCAR exhibition to work with Cusick Motorsports and one of our partners, On-Track-Performance, which is based at Thermal. They sell race-run stock cars rebuilt by Hendrick Performance Track Attack. Stock Race Cars For Sale – Cool Different Track Day Cars – Auto Performance Parts Dealer – On Track Performance

Our next scheduled event will be at Mid Ohio in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge 4-hour event June 7-9. We will continue to prepare to come out of the gates as strong as possible and hopefully find some other opportunities to get in a car before then. 

Stay Fast,

Jackson

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *